Making your presence known can come in many forms. For Ken “The Hammer” Hamlin, former NFL safety, it’s no longer lighting up wide receivers across the middle of a football field. Instead, it will be lighting up The Arrival, Hamlin’s new cigar made in collaboration with Manuel Inoa of La Aurora Cigars.
Hamlin played defensive back for the Seahawks, Cowboys, Colts and Ravens over eight years, snagging a Pro Bowl delegation in 2007. Towards the middle of his career, however, he stopped at a gas station and picked out the humidor’s most expensive cigar: a Padrón 1964. Since that first smoke, his passion for hand-rolled cigars grew until he ended up at the ProCigar Festival in the Dominican Republic where he met La Aurora’s master blender, Manuel Inoa.
Hamlin’s “eye-opening” experience made him want to create his own cigar. He returned to Santiago a month later and met with Inoa. After going back and forth more than a dozen times, they came up with a blend they found ideal. Hamlin even says he rolled about 30 of them himself–until he “left it to the professionals.”
Lawyers initially dismissed early suggestions for naming the cigar like “The Hammer” or “El Martillo” (hammer in Spanish), so Hamlin came up with The Arrival. He related it to his motto of always showing up and making his presence known, much like his idol Deion “Prime Time” Sanders had taught him.
“I say, ‘Smoke well, look good.’ Almost like Deion would say, ‘Look good, play good. Play good, get paid good,’” Hamlin said.
The Arrival is expected to roll out this July. Hamlin described it as a medium- to full-bodied cigar with Nicaraguan wrapper over Dominican, Brazilian and Nicaraguan tobaccos. The cigar will come in a 5 inch by 50 ring gauge Robusto, 6 by 50 Toro and 6 by 52 Grand Toro, and will sell between $10 and $12. Hamlin will soon be taking The Arrival on the road to open retailers across the southern United States.
Hamlin isn’t the first athlete to make his own cigars. The hard-hitting Ray Lewis released his Legends 52 by Rocky Patel in 2015, ex-Yankee slugger Gary Sheffield has his own Rocky Patel HR 500 By Gary Sheffield cigars, and David Ortiz has his Big Papi stick in collaboration with Tabacalera El Artista. There are also the La Aurora Barrel Aged by Karl Malone and M.X.S. signature cigars from former NBA stars Dominique Wilkins and Tiago Splitter, among others from athletes that have gravitated from the sports world to the world of fine, handmade cigars.